iPad multitasking on iOS 11, at left, and iOS 12, at right

iOS 12 brings iPhone X-style multitasking gestures to your iPad. For consistency’s sake, Apple customers can now interact with multiple apps on their tablet using all-new multitasking gestures that have replaced key functions of the versatile Home button.

New iPad multitasking gestures on iOS 12

When iPhone X made its debut last September, Apple made sure to implement new system-wide gestures in iOS 11 to mimic the versatility and a few key functions of the Home button, like getting back to your Home screen or invoking the app switcher.

This resulted in inconsistencies as existing devices with a Home button got stuck with the old way of doing this. With iOS 12, Apple has made further changes to bring a consistent user experience across devices in terms of multitasking gestures.

Before continuing with our step-by-step tutorial, get to know the new iPhone X-style multitasking gestures for iPad by checking out Harris’s hands-on video walkthrough.

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On iPad, specifically, iOS 12 offers a few new single-fingered multitasking gestures:

  • Get back to the Home screen
  • Enter Control or Notification Center
  • Bring up the Dock
  • Invoke the app switcher
  • Cycle through the recently-used apps

Here’s how to use them.

How to use iOS 12’s iPad multitasking gestures

Everyone knows that pressing the Home button takes you to the Home screen, wherever you happen to be in iOS. In preparing iPad for the notch and a future without the Home button, Appel took care to bring relevant gestures from iPhone X over to the tablet.

And now, Familiarize yourself with Apple’s new iPad multitasking gestures on iOS 12.

Go back to the Home screen

To close the app you’re currently using and go back to the Home screen, swipe up from the bottom edge of the display until the app zooms out and you find yourself on the familiar Home screen.

Swipe up again to instantly jump to Home screen 0.

Show the Control Center overlay

In iOS 11, Control Center appeared as an “app” on the righthand side of Control Center. Thankfully, iOS 12 splits up the app switcher and Control Center, like on iPhone.

iPad multitasking: see your Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of the display

On iPad, iOS 12 no longer bundles Control Center into the app switcher

To show Control Center on your iPad with iOS 12 or newer, swipe down from the top-right corner of the display. To close Control Center, tap anywhere outside the overlay.

Enter Notification Center

On iOS 11, iPad users could show the Notification Center overlay while using an app by swiping down from the top edge of the display. Since iOS 12 has already allocated the top-right corner to the new Control Center gesture, the way you get to your recent notifications requires pulling down from the top-left or top-center of the display.

Yup, just like on iPhone X.

Bring up the Dock

iOS 11 let you enter a Mac-like Dock by swiping up with one finger from the bottom edge of the screen. On iOS 12, swipe slowly from the bottom edge of the display to show the Dock.

This gesture definitely takes some time getting used to.

iPad multitasking: show the dock with a slow swipe up

A shorter, slower swipe brings up the Dock

During the first few days of my iOS 12 experience I found myself accidentally launching the Home screen instead of bringing up the Dock. I would say a slow swipe works best if you’d like to show the Dock while a faster swipe will take you back to the Home screen instantly.

If you’re complaining that this new Dock gesture is somewhat difficult to pull off, consider that iPhones lack a Mac-like Dock. Besides, it’s not like Apple had much choice given the three different swipe-up gestures in iOS 12: a slow swipe (the Dock), a longer swipe (the Home screen) and a third swipe discussed in the following section.

Invoke the app switcher

To see the app switcher on iOS 11, you’d swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen with one finger. iOS 12 remaps this to the gesture we saw on iPhone X: swipe up, then pause.

As mentioned before, the iPad app switcher no longer includes the Control Center overlay.

App switcher on iOS 11, at right, includes Control Center. iOS 12, at left, does not.

While in the app switcher, swipe right with one finger to find and open a different app. iOS 12 lets you enter the app switcher the old-fashioned way, too, by double-clicking the Home button.

While the process of force-quitting an app on iPad has not changed—you just swipe up across an app’s thumbnail in the pp switcher—iOS 12 conveniently enough no longer requires that iPhone X owners hold down on apps in the app switcher to force-close them.

The change makes force-quitting apps behave consistently on iPhone and iPad.

Go back to the last-used app

To instantly jump right into your last-used app while on a Home screen, swipe up a little bit from the bottom edge of the display, then right in a quick slide.

This gesture only works when you’re on a Home screen, not while using an app.

Cycle through your recently-used apps

iOS 11 has introduced us to the Home indicator.

It’s a line near the bottom of the iPhone X display that you can swipe across to cycle through open apps. To switch instantly between open apps on your iPad, swipe up a little bit from the bottom edge of your iPad’s display, then right or left in a quick slide. Alternatively, swipe horizontally across the bottom as if you were attempting to draw an arch with your finger.

Again, just like on your iPhone X.

Other iPad multitasking gestures

The core iPad multitasking gestures have not changed from iOS 11 to iOS 12.

  • Go to the Home screen—Pinch four or five fingers together
  • Cycle through open apps—Swipe horizontally with four or finger fingers at once
  • Enter Picture-in-Picture mode—Go to the Home screen while watching a video
  • Invoke the app switcher—Double-click the Home button

iOS 12 still supports all of the previous iPad multitasking modes we’ve come to love, including Slide Over, Split View, Picture-in-Picture and various combinations thereof. If your hardware allows for it, you can even run four apps at once on your tablet.

iPad multitasking: running fours apps at once (Split View, Slide Over and Picture-in-Picture)

Multitasking like a pro: running four apps at once

As an effective example, you might open Mail and Safari in side-by-side Split View mode, plus a third app in Slide Over while watching video in a floating Picture-in-Picture overlay.

Before taking advantage of the gestures we’ve outlined in this article, be sure to turn on iPad multitasking gesture support in Settings → General → Multitasking & Dock .

There, you can do the following:

  • Allow Multiple Apps—Use Slide Over or Split View multitasking modes
  • Persistent Video Overlay—Enable Picture in Picture
  • Show Suggested and Recent Apps—See recently-used apps on the Dock’s right side
  • Gestures—Disable multitasking gestures to access the app switcher and more

Again, these core multitasking gestures have not changed from iOS 11 to iOS 12.

iPad multitasking on iOS 12 still supports Slide Over, Split View and Picture-in-Picture modes

Slide Over, Split View and PiP modes work the same across iOS 11 and 12

To cherry-pick the apps that should check for new content in the background, go to Settings → General → Background App Refresh and turn the feature on or off for individual apps.

And that’s it, folks

iOS 11 boosted your productivity with new iPad features like drag and drop, the Dock and new multitasking modes. When it comes to multitasking, iOS 12 is all about consistency.

No matter the device, iOS 12 lets you multitask like a pro using consistent gestures:

  • Swipe up—Close an app and go back to the Home screen
  • Swipe up slowly—Show the Dock
  • Swipe up and pause—Enter the app switcher
  • Swipe down from the top-right corner—Show the Control Center overlay
  • Swipe down from the top-center or top-left corner—Show Notification Center
  • Swipe horizontally in an arc going upwards—Cycle through your previously-used apps

I think you’ll agree that not only are these new iPad multitasking gestures consistent with iPhone X, but hint at a future iPad that will likely do without the Home button and adopt an iPhone X-like design complete with the notch and an edge-to-edge screen.

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